Well America, we had a good run. Due to our world-renowned talents and skills, we were able to dominate the game of basketball for more than 50 years. In international competition, Team USA is the most successful international team with 15 Olympic gold medals. Two of its past teams were inducted into the Hall of Fame, 1960s Team USA and the “Dream Team.” As the world continues to change, so does the game of basketball around the world. Basketball is becoming more popular than ever before due to its ever-expanding reach. With expansion comes better competition. Last Sunday night, America began to show its fatigue.
Team USA roster included the likes of Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, and Bradley Beal. KD led the pack with only 17 points while shooting only 30.8%. Team USA got off to a slow start and never seemed to shift into that next gear. Nigeria came in hot from way beyond the arc shooting 20 for 42 for the game. Behind Gabe Vincent’s (plays for the Miami Heat) 27 points, Nigeria was able to keep their hold on the battle for the whole game.
Team USA didn’t show any pride nor teamwork in their debut. It will take time for this team to get their footing and actually show teamwork. This game also speaks to how, in the NBA, players are usually out for themselves. Team and country pride goes a long way in international events and Team USA has none. America is dealing with a lot of social events and policies. Having to put on a brave face and show the world your dominance after having your country’s problems on display for a year isn’t easy. The world has watched events like the BLM protests, Jan. 6th terrorist attack, and the 2020 election play out. America is starting to show its age and so is our most prized sports team.
An African team has never beaten America before. It was a game everyone thought Team USA would win. In a major upset, Nigeria beat Team USA, 90-87. The loss sent shockwaves throughout the sports world. It gave international teams hope for any sign of weakness in America’s armor. The loss spoke to something that America has always feared would come, international sports catching up to us.
The emergence of international stars like Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic has put the world on notice. More and more NBA players are honing their homegrown skills and bringing them to the United States. More than half of the top 25 NBA players were born in another country. The culture of basketball is changing and nowhere as closed off as it was in the 90s. While Team USA’s Sunday loss is just one of the next 5 exhibitions, games on the schedule, it does have many sports analysts waking up. The next few weeks should be interesting leading up to the 2021 Olympics in Toyko. The USA Men’s Basketball Team is currently ranked number 1 on the FIBA ranking while Nigeria is 22.